JOHN F. KENNEDY
1917-1963
 

 JFK and Pope Paul VI


KENNEDY, John Fitzgerald (Jack; JFK) May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963.  The  35th President of the United States from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963.


John F. Kennedy was a mid-twentieth-century representative of the self-confident catholic response of encounter with the American environment. He symbolised those forces which John Ireland and Al smith represented at earlier times in different contexts. He believed with other presidential heroes that religious faith is a personal affair, that ecclesiastical authorities had no special claim over public officials, and that God had placed man on earth to exercise freedom and excellence in achievement, and that it was up to individual men and women and the United States of America to fulfil God’s purpose. To Kennedy, there was nothing in these beliefs which was incompatible with the sectarian religion of his birth, including its theology and authoritarian form of church government. Because he was a Catholic, representing the one sectarian religion thought to be at odds with the culture-religion of Americanism, Kennedy, as a culture-hero, helped to broaden the basis of consensus in American life by encouraging the forces of encounter within American Catholicism, and by opening the minds of non-Catholics to new opportunities for human communication, learning and growth in dialogue with Catholics.  

Lawrence H. Fuchs, John F. Kennedy and American Catholicism (New York: Meredith Press 1967), 224.

 

 


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